“Well I hate to admit it but I can’t remember”

Knowing, Remembering and Performing in Everyday Life with Dementia
  • Heidi E. Hamilton


In this book, I examine the ways in which participant frameworks, physical environments, activity types, and interactional goals shape how cognitive challenges and strengths are navigated as “our mental states make contact with the world” (Hughes, Thinking through dementia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011: 265)—and, crucially, how these aspects of context impact the self-esteem of individuals with dementia and their conversational partners. To this end, I analyze the language used in everyday conversations, medical visits, memory loss support group meetings, and specially designed art gallery tours through the lens of epistemic discourse analysis (van Dijk, Discourse Studies, 15, 497–500, 2013; Heritage, Research on Language and Social Interaction (ROLSI), 45, 30–52, 2012) in combination with Goffman’s (Interaction ritual. Garden City: Anchor Books, 1967; Relations in public. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1971) and Brown and Levinson’s (Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987) insights into face maintenance in everyday social interaction. I explore how individuals’ changes in cognition may impact the faces of these individuals, leaving some to feel ashamed, anxious, or angry; others to feel patronized, infantilized, or overly dependent; and still others to feel threatened in both ways. In this examination, I keep in clear and central focus the important discursive choices made by healthy interactional partners that may end up minimizing or exacerbating these feelings.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Heidi E. Hamilton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsGeorgetown UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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